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Asparagus

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Botanical name: Asparagus officinalis

Plant type: Vegetable

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun exposure: Part Sun

Soil type: Sandy

Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Neutral

Asparagus is a perennial bulb and stem vegetable that greets us every spring. It may take 2 to 3 years to get started and produce, so patience is needed! But then the plant can be productive up to 20 years, so we think it's worth the wait.

Asparagus has male and female plants, with the female plants producing berries. Regions with cool winters are best for this cool-season crop.

Planting

  • Asparagus is planted in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. The plant is grown from "crowns" (1-year-old plants).
  • Eliminate all weeds from the bed, digging it over and working in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost, manure or soil mix.
  • Dig trenches of about 6 inches wide and 6 to 12 inches deep.  Some experts believe shallow trenches of 6 inches are best. 
  • Asparagus does not like to have its feet "wet," so be sure your bed has good drainage. For that reason, raised beds can be a good place to plant asparagus.
  • Create a mound in the trench and plant the crowns 15 to 18 inches apart, spreading the roots over the ridge.
  • Cover the roots and crowns with soil 2 inches deep and water thoroughly.
  • As the stems grow, fill in the rest of the trench with soil, leaving 3 to 4 inches of the stem exposed.

Care

  • When the trench is filled, add a 4 to 8 inch layer of mulch and water regularly.
  • Do not harvest the spears in the first year, but cut down dead foliage in late fall and side-dress with compost.
  • During the second year, keep the bed thickly mulched, side-dress in spring and early fall, and cut down dead foliage in late fall.

Pests

Harvest/Storage

  • Asparagus can take three growing seasons to harvest; you may be able to lightly harvest during the second year.
  • In the first year, just let the aspargus go vegetative to give the crown a chance to get well established. Next spring, remove the old fern growth from the previous year, and keep an eye open for the new spears to begin emerging.
  • For the following years, maintain the bed and harvest only the spears thicker than a pencil.
  • The asparagus can be harvested for a period of about two to three weeks once the spears start to show. Keep a close eye on your asparagus so that you don't miss the harvest!
  • After harvest, allow the ferns to grow; this replenishes the nutrients for next year's spear production.
  • Harvest for 2 or 3 weeks. After you harvest, leave the ferns so it can gather nourishment for next year's growth. 
  • Cut spears that are about 6 inches in length at an angle.
  • Asparagus freezes well.

Recommended Varieties

  • White asparagus is not a variety, but simply asparagus grown in the absence of sunlight to prevent chlorophyll from developing. White asparagus is slightly sweeter, but has less fiber than green asparagus.
  • Purple asparagus is bred to be purple in color, but turns green when it is cooked. Purple varieties tend to have thicker but fewer spears.

Recipes

Wit & Wisdom

A pinch of baking soda in the cooking water keeps beans, spinach, and asparagus greener.

Comments

I planted an asparagus crown

By LauraW on December 20

I planted an asparagus crown early summer. It grew a couple feet and had long wispy ends a bit like the plant, dill. Anyway I left it out a bit too long in winter into November and the plant looked like it wasn't doing well I chopped it down really short thought it was dead left it by my window inside and now I have one asparagus stock that's about 4 feet tall growing up my window. Will this ever become of anything? I have a picture if there's a place to submit it.... It doesn't look like any other asparagus I've seen on the Internet. I wonder if mine has grown too tall?

We received many 1 yr old

By Froze til spring on December 17

We received many 1 yr old crowns from a friend who wasn't able to plant them this year. They came in a plastic mesh bag with no media. The ground is already frozen. How should we care for them over the winter until the soil is able to be worked in the spring?

Asparagus crowns should be

By Almanac Staff on December 18

Asparagus crowns should be kept in moist sand, or wrapped in damp newspapers, and stored in a cool location, like a basement.

I have asparagus turning 4

By grig1209 on December 10

I have asparagus turning 4 years old next spring in my community garden. I have moved and want to transfer the asparagus. If I transfer how long do I have to wait to harvest it considering it is already established

Transplant your plants while

By Almanac Staff on December 12

Transplant your plants while they are dormant ideally in the spring just before the spears start to show growth. Carefully dig them up with a fork and try not to disturbe or brake the roots. Do not harvest too heavily next year to give the asparagus a chance to re-build its strength.
 
 

I pulled my wife's asparagus

By flynny

I pulled my wife's asparagus plants up this fall after their 1st year,leaving the roots. Will the plants be ok? she seems to think not

It's advised to cut the

By Almanac Staff

It's advised to cut the asparagus back in the fall, but it is important that you wait until all of the foliage has died back and turned brown or yellow. Once the foliage has died, cut it down to about two inches above the ground.

My garden has both asparagus

By Doug Moore

My garden has both asparagus and other vegetables. How close to the asparagus can I turn over the soil to prepare for planting other vegetables? I.e., how far from the stalks do the roots grow?

Asparagus need about 18

By Almanac Staff

Asparagus need about 18 inches between rows so we wouldn't plant any nearer than that.

We need to transplant an

By lea-ann

We need to transplant an established bed, probably twenty or more years old. Should we do that after the frost and before the freeze. We were going to dig trenches and transplant dirt, roots and all. Might try and divide a few crowns as it has never been. Any advice appreciated!

Hi Lea-Ann, Transplanting is

By Almanac Staff

Hi Lea-Ann,
Transplanting is best done when the plants are dormant. Early spring before they start growing or late fall (before your first frost). Be aware that after so many years the roots may be tangled underground. Lift the crowns with a fork with as little disturbance of the roots as possible. Try to separate the crowns and remove any weeds. Give the plants some water after you have transplanted them. Good luck!

Asparagus Some of my

By Michele F

Asparagus
Some of my asparagus ferns have seeds on them. I have read that these take energy away from the plant's root system. Should I cut these ferns when I see the seeds appear or wait until late fall and cut down with the rest of the ferns?

Do not cut down the ferns

By Almanac Staff

Do not cut down the ferns until the spring; the fern growth is needed for next year's asparagus spear production.  Seeds are on the female plants and, yes, the seeds do reduce yield. Most of the newer hybrids, such as Jersey Giant, are all male plants, producing no seeds.

NO plants this year at all! I

By LeahPea

NO plants this year at all! I have a 3 year old container bed that I have never harvested. It grew the first year I planted it from seedlings and again the second year - I let the plants go yellow into the winter and then cut it down when it was dry. But this year nothing came up at all! I live in California (coastal) and we had a very dry (drought) winter. Could this be the cause? Also, I imagine the mulch/soil was not thick enough at the top. Thanks.

Hi, Leah, Drought conditions

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Leah,
Drought conditions could be the problem. Asparagus, being a perennial, needs water to maintain and increase its vigor. Lack of adequate moisture can bring on Fusarium, which is essentially rot of various parts: stem, crown, and root.
You mention planting in a container... Asparagus will not thrive in a container for more than a couple of seasons. If this is a traditional container, it would have been more susceptible to drying out; most containers are.
Sorry we have not better news.

MY ASPARAGUS BED IS OVER 80

By PAM CROWE

MY ASPARAGUS BED IS OVER 80 YRS OLD. AND KEEP PRODUCING. MY CONCERN IS THE STALKS DO NOT PRODUCE ANY RED BERRIES AND HASN'T IN SEVERAL YEARS. WHAT IS GOING ON? I STILL GET LOSTS OF ASPARAGUS.

The berries are seeds (and

By Almanac Staff

The berries are seeds (and poisonous, for the record), and only female plants produce them. It's not clear why they no longer appear, but if the harvest is satisfactory, you're doing something right.

Our asparagus bed is in it's

By cheryl bryant

Our asparagus bed is in it's third year. When weeding I found several young plants that hve come up from seeds. HowndonImtransplant them to a new bed ? They are 2-5 inches tall. thanks, Cheryl from PA

You can carefully transplant

By Almanac Staff

You can carefully transplant them to a new bed. It will take a few years before they start producing.

I planted some 2 year old

By CoreyA

I planted some 2 year old crowns a month or so ago, and the plants are starting to come up. Some are about 18" tall and fern. Others have just barely broken through. Do I let these plants continue to grow, or do I need to cut them. Also will I be able to get any stalks to eat this year or have to wait until next spring?

I have 3 plants well into

By JIM vISOSKAS

I have 3 plants well into their 3rd year.
The plants are very tall, over 6 feet.
The ends of the branches look like
ostrich feathers. Will these turn to
spears? What can I expect?

this is the third year of the

By Dorisann Varin-Duprey

this is the third year of the asparagus plants. they are tall and branches are like ostrich feathers. Will they turn into spears?

Hi Jim, If you planted your

By Almanac Staff

Hi Jim, If you planted your asparagus from seed, we recommend that you start harvesting after this third year. It's good to let the spears grow into ferns for good production next year. Optionally: lightly fertilize for good top growth. Keep moist. Then, after frost (when the foliage yellows), cut the spears down to 2-inch stubs to force dormancy. In the fall, add 4 to 6 inches of mulch and some organic matter and nutrients. In warm areas, withhold water in October and November to make ferns go dormant (turn yellow). Remove dried tops in early winter before new sprouts appear.

I live in SE Asia. When you

By Carrie Tay

I live in SE Asia.

When you state to withhold water from the asparagus, do you mean completely, or minimise watering? Oct and Nov can be monsoon season here.

Thanks!

Cheers

The tall plants you have

By Frank U

The tall plants you have started off as spears. You have to harvest them when they coming up out of the ground before they get too big. Happens really fast!

I planet about nine asparagus

By jason s.

I planet about nine asparagus crowns about a month and a half ago in my garden. When should I expect to see the asparagus breaking through the soil. Should I have seen them by now or is it a long initial wait.

Hi, Jason, You should start

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Jason,
You should start to see shoots soon. If you do not, reconsider that asparagus is fairly particular: it likes warm to hot weather, heavy compost, slightly sweet (pH of 6 to 8) well-draining soil, and regular watering (keep them damp during dry weather). With care, you can apply compost and/or lime while the plant is in the ground, if conditions warrant it.
You should not pick it until the second year and then only sparingly. So, while it's a long initial wait, as you suggest, and a longer one to harvest—but worth it!

Your post says slightly

By Vic Kovacs

Your post says slightly sweet, but the top of the page says slightly acidic. Is each better for a different variety?

Mint has invaded my

By levamssg

Mint has invaded my established asparagus bed. Does anyone have a remedy for getting rid of mint without destroying my asparagus bed? I pull it out, but it comes back with a vengance! I am organic, so I use no chemicals.

This is not an easy fix. Pull

By Almanac Staff

This is not an easy fix. Pull out as much as you can, making sure that you get as many little pieces as possible. (Some advise screening the soil to be sure you have those bits, but this would be a project.) Then smother the mint, but not the asparagus tips, with layers of newspaper. This will eventually break down, so be ready to add more. And be ready to water the asparagus, if the newspaper seems impervious.
This process wll weaken the mint. In a few weeks, lift some of the newspaper. Remove any pale, sun-deprived mint. You can return the newspaper and keep it there for a while longer; it won't hurt the 'grass. Just be prepared to do it again next season. It may take few attempts to clear.
In the meantime, remove the mint from the surrounding area.

My raised asparagus is in a

By GT

My raised asparagus is in a low spot of my yard which I need to fill in. The bed is raised with paving stones, would it be possible for me to build up the paving stones (up to 12 inches) then add soil on top of my bed? Would that suffocate and kill the asparagus or will they send up shoots through the added depth?

Many gardeners top-dress by

By Almanac Staff

Many gardeners top-dress by adding 1or 2 inches of compost onto a bed in fall and the crowns rise through it.
In the winter, a mulch of 4 to 6 inches is advisable, but is often removed.
So, a foot or so of coverage could be too much at one time for the spears to survive. We suggest that contact your local extension service for more details.

How do you combat asparagus

By Bonesrv

How do you combat asparagus beetles throughout the year. They really can chow down the ferns. Unfortunately in august we had a long vacation and the ferns were chewed right down, may have been some worms as well. Starting year 4 of the bed and we're expecting the same difficulties.

* One of the most important

By Almanac Staff

* One of the most important things to do is to remove plant debris in the garden, including spent asparagus fronds, in the fall, since the beetles overwinter in plant debris.
 
* Asparagus beetles are said to be repelled by petunias, marigolds, and basil, so you might try planting those nearby.
 
* Cover the asparagus with row covers during the growing season.
 
* Handpick the beetles and larvae when you see them; you can shake the fronds over a bucket of water to knock the pests off.
 
* Chickens help to remove the pests, if that's an option.
 
* Ask a garden nursery about insecticide options.
 
* Harvest the spears as early as you can.
 
* The spotted asparagus beetle is similar to the common asparagus beetle, but lays its eggs near the asparagus berries, so male-only asparagus cultivars will help to deter this species.

my asparagus plants are 3

By brian kramer

my asparagus plants are 3 years old. some of the shoots are nearly three feet tall. is this normal and should I just cut them and eat them?

Asparagus grows very fast and

By Robin Stark-Hansen

Asparagus grows very fast and can be picked nearly daily in a healthy productive bed. When asparagus gets that tall you can be sure the majority of the stem is tough and fiberous. Break the asparagus off where the tender meets the tough. It should cut or snap off easily at this point. The spears should be picked when they are 6-10 inches to be at the most tender.

I heard that you cut

By jerry boe

I heard that you cut asparagus close to the ground, it must dry out before another spear can start. I have been using a carrot peeler to take the out side of the spear on the bottom after that its good to ear, and more.

The farm where we live has a

By chinablue

The farm where we live has a small bed of asparagus that has been here since long before we moved here 36 years ago. It is at the edge of what used to be an acre garden plot that is now a field and is covered over by grass. Most springs, I can harvest enough for a couple of meals, but it's SO hard to find the spears before they start to open up in all that grass! I've thought about digging the asparagus up, but I'm afraid I'll kill it off. It goes to fern and I let it stand until spring mainly so I can find where to look for it the next spring. Do you have any recommendations for getting the grass out of the bed, or moving the plants so I don't have to keep going out on my hands and knees to run my fingers through the grass to find my asparagus spears? Thanks for any help.

I use a weed eater to control

By Asparagusgrower

I use a weed eater to control grass in my 15 year old asparagus bed. Clean out the bed in the spring before grass and asparagus start growing. After each cutting of asparagus, weed eat grass down to the ground. When you stop harvesting at the beginning of June, grass is usually slowing down for summer and asparagus will fern.

I had an elderly friend whose

By Robin Stark-Hansen

I had an elderly friend whose asparagus patch has sodded over as well. I went out in Fall and dug all the grass off of the patch and it grew beautifully the next Spring. Just don't dig any deeper than you have to to pull that sod off and you should be fine and feel great that you are letting the asparagus "breathe" again.

My husband has used a weed

By wibadger

My husband has used a weed killer(round up is one he has used) on the weeds and grass in our asparagus beds. It has not hurt the asparagus. Good luck

At what concentration rate

By Lyle Hansen

At what concentration rate and what time of year did you use Round Up on your asparagus? I have quack grass and morning glory I am trying to get out of my patch.
Thanks,

My mother in law says her

By Sarah

My mother in law says her father would break up a salt block and spread over the bed. It will kill out the grass and other plants but leave the asparagus growing great. I tried it this year and it worked amazingly.

Do you have more specific

By Meme Jones

Do you have more specific directions about the salt type and amount to use? Morning glory is choking my asparagus stalks. Thanks in advance for any more info you could provide.

Opinions vary on when to

By Almanac Staff

Opinions vary on when to attack the weeds: in fall, after the first hard frost (or maybe after a couple of frosts, depending on how hard one frost might be). Or in early spring, before the weeds get going.
In digging and pulling the weeds, remember that the asparagus crown is probably 6 to 8 inches below the surface and, after so long in the ground, it has probably expanded in overall size. Use a hoe or other such tool to dig without piercing or breaking the asparagus crown. You could do this both in spring and fall, considering how overgrown it may be after so long.
When you have the bed as weed free as possible, apply 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch—wood chips, compost, or clean straw. It will help to minimize weeds.
Several sources mention using salt, diluted in water as a traditional remedy for weeds in asparagus, but we do not recommend it.

I planted with the roots

By terry fitzpatrick

I planted with the roots vertical instead of horizontal will this be ok

I planted my asparagus crowns

By Alexclarkewgbqg

I planted my asparagus crowns 3yrs ago and they are stong. Thick shoots etc. Plan to harvest some this year, but am not sure how many to cut? Do I cut ALL shoots for a couple of weeks, or half the shoots on each crown for the same length of time and let the other half turn to foliage similtaneously? Advice please!

We suggest that you cut all

By Almanac Staff

We suggest that you cut all shoots for 3 - 5 weeks and then stop and let them grow to gain strength for next spring.

WILL IT BE OK TO MIX A

By Leticia R. Lowery

WILL IT BE OK TO MIX A VARIETY VEGETABLE PLANT AROUND MY ASPARAGUS PLANT? I PLAN ON PLANTING TOMAOES,BELLPEPPER,EGGPLANT.THANK YOU

Asparagus gets along with

By Almanac Staff

Asparagus gets along with most vegetables but there are certain plants that are extra beneficial. Parsley and basil will help with growth and vigor and tomatoes planted near asparagus help deter asparagus beetles.

I am doing a container garden

By carli bonnitt

I am doing a container garden this year and want to have asparagus- I purchased the 2 yr crowns and have a half barrel planter that i was thinking would be good enough to start them out. I have garden soil but everything I am reading says they like sandy loamy soil? What would be the best to buy? Something like the cactus soil? Or am I thinking too hard about it?!

Hi Carli, You can make your

By Almanac Staff

Hi Carli,
You can make your own soil mix. Mix together equal parts of potting soil, sand, compost and aged manure.

 

I started my raised bed last

By Jackie Burris

I started my raised bed last year, with new spears ready to harvest now. You should look for a companion planting guide, it will help prevent pests and reduce the need for any harmful chemicals. I did companion planting with parsley. Hope this helps.

Asparagus isn't something

By Almanac Staff

Asparagus isn't something we've tried in containers but it should grow in just about any soil type as long as it's well-drained, so make sure to put a layer of gravel at the bottom of your half barrel to help with drainage.

I will be starting this

By Bob Sayler

I will be starting this spring to plant a raised bed of asparagus. I have been reading a lot to make sure I plant the roots properly. We live in So Dak where the winters can be very cold. Do I need to cover the bed with leaves etc in the fall or will the plants just go dormant & return in the spring with out covering them?

I am getting ready to order

By Sherrie Anderson

I am getting ready to order asparagus crowns for the first time. I am tempted to buy the expensive crowns that are 3 years old so I will be able to harvest the next year, when will these be ready to harvest? Or do you have to wait just as long with the three year as the as the two year crowns? Also how many plants do I need per person?

Two years ago I bought three

By Johnnie THE gardener

Two years ago I bought three year 3YR crowns.This year they just matured into 6Ft. plants gathering food for the crowns.They are powerful looking,this spring I will digest every piece that cones up.So invest into 3YR. crowns,I mean it.

Each crown will produce about

By Almanac Staff

Each crown will produce about 1/2 lb. of spears per year when fully established. Plant 10-12 crowns per person.
Many gardeners don't think that there is much gain from buying 3-year crowns and the younger crowns are less likely to break when planting. Even with the younger crowns you can harvest a few spears after the crowns have been growing a full year.

I have heard of using rock

By Munch

I have heard of using rock salt to help control weeds and help the crowns. How much and when is the best time to apply.

According to one reader, till

By Almanac Staff

According to one reader, till in the spring as soon as you can--and then apply rock salt. For a 20 foot-square area, apply about 50 pounds of rock salt. You should enjoy a weedless asparagus patch!

I would think with that much

By Munch

I would think with that much salt it would be weed free. Not sure it would need salt at the table when you were ready to eat it.

Can a light salad mix be

By tomsmama1993

Can a light salad mix be planted in the same bed as asparagus? Nothing that the roots would go too deep. Starting my first raised bed and it seems kind of a waste to only have the asparagus in it. (Can you tell I'm new to this?)

Thanks in advance!

I have had luck with planting

By Heather GR

I have had luck with planting asparagus and strawberries together in a perennials bed that I do not disturb. Both seem happy and are productive, and it's an efficient use of space in my small garden!

This is a new question for

By Almanac Staff

This is a new question for us! As aspargus and lettuce are "companion plants," it might be OK to plant asparagus beween rows of lettuce and may even help their growth. Many gardeners do not put the asparagus in the regular vegetables beds. Mine is near the compost bin as it loves the heavy organic matter and you really don't notice it. It is vital that your asparagus bed doesn't have any weeds so keep it weed-free.

Help! I was in fall clean up

By Sarah LeFrancois

Help! I was in fall clean up mode and pulled- not cut-our well established (over 3 years old) asparagus plants that had gone yellow. Will it still grow in the spring? Or did I just pull the whole thing up? I covered with compost and straw to be safe...

Also we planted hops in the asparagus bed. Hops also have a large root system. Should I move it so they do not compete?

Hi Sarah, Asparagus roots

By Almanac Staff

Hi Sarah,
Asparagus roots spread horizontally and will over several years develop into a thick mat of roots and underground shoots. By pulling the tops you may have pulled some roots but hopefully your bed is established enough so that there are still roots in the soil that will grow next year. The hops will compete with the asparagus and eventually take over. We suggest moving it.
 

I planted asparagus 3 years

By Anne Alcock

I planted asparagus 3 years ago, so this the year I should have been able to harvest it. Only problem is, it's certainly not nearly the size of a pencil! Very thin stalks and lots of fuzzy foliage. It's now mid-November, so what should I do with all that top growth? Also, what's the difference between harvesting and cutting the stalks at ground level?

Spindly spears usually happen

By Almanac Staff

Spindly spears usually happen with there isn't enough soil covering the crowns. Over time, the soil will recede; make sure you have 3 to 5 inches of soil covering the crowns.
When you harvest spears, they should be 5 to 8 inches in length. You can either cut or snap the stalks.To cut a spear, run a knife into the soil at the base of the spear and carefully sever it.
You can allow some spears to develop into those fuzzy ferns; it helps the plant develop sufficient top growth for good spear production.

In the asparagus bed are some

By NewAsparagus

In the asparagus bed are some mini asparagus plants. The first two years I thought they were weeds mimicking asparagus so I plucked them out. I now realize they are baby asparagus. Should I still weed them out or should I let them grow? I'm worried they will steal the nutrition from the mother plant.

Every spring, you should see

By Almanac Staff

Every spring, you should see new shoots. You want to harvest them when they are only 9 inches tall. Just snap at ground level.  If you find emerging spears during harvest time, remove them.

I wasn't aware that I wasn't

By Mel P

I wasn't aware that I wasn't suppose to trim the fern at all my first year. It was messy looking and I trimmed the top, leaving about 2-3 feet of the stalk. Will that mess up production? How can I fix this?

Your asparagus will be fine.

By Almanac Staff

Your asparagus will be fine. In early spring, mow or cut back the stalks to ground level.

I planted some asparagus

By sunny mitchell

I planted some asparagus starter plants this spring that were about 6" tall in a raised bed. I would like to move them to another area of my yard. I will be sure the new area is totally weed free, tested for 6.0 to 6.5 ph and have plenty of compost dug in & put some mulch on the top. Can I dig deep w/a shovel & move roots with surrounding dirt very carefully or will it kill the asparagus or slow down the growing process? Any suggestions?

Asparagus is quite hardy.

By Almanac Staff

Asparagus is quite hardy. It's normally transplanted in early spring, though some readers seem to prefer fall. Any time is fine as long as the asparagus is in a dormant period and not in growth—and the soil is at least 50 degrees F.
Here is more information: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1603.html

It's my first year growing it

By Lori Cross

It's my first year growing it what do I need to do for winter anything special

In the first year, there's

By Almanac Staff

In the first year, there's nothing special you need to do. Let it get established. The ferns can trap snow and provide moisture.  In the spring, you can remove old fern growth and wait for the new spears to emerge.

What months are best suited

By NoMoMrNiceGuy

What months are best suited to harvest in ?

It depends on where you live.

By Almanac Staff

It depends on where you live. In general, asparagus is harvested from late February to June, with April being the prime month.

I planted 3 yr bulbs in fall

By Barbejacobs

I planted 3 yr bulbs in fall 2012, was told I could harvest this summer. I have lots of plants, some look ready to eat, the rest are beautiful ferns. I was told I could harvest this year but now all I see on the internet is to cut down and wait till at least next year. I'd like some advice on what to do. Trim,cut down, harvest the ones that look perfectly ready to eat? Thanks!

Even though these are

By Almanac Staff

Even though these are 3-year-old crowns instead of 1- or 2-year-olds, it's best to not harvest the first year after planting. The second year, go lightly, and the third, the plants should be established enough to handle a regular harvest. According to some gardeners, 3-year-old crowns can sometimes can be a little more fussy in adjusting to their new home, compared to 1- and 2-year-olds, so it's best to wait in case.

If you are really set on a harvest this year, and your plants look vigorous, with lots of healthy shoots on each crown, and a healthy green color to the ferns, you might be OK in harvesting extremely lightly for about 2 weeks--leave several shoots on each crown for the ferns to grow and provide food for the plant to help it to become established. It would be better, though, to not harvest at all this year.

Let the ferns brown and die back before cutting them down. These allow the plant to make food and gain in vigor.

Thank you so much! I feel so

By Barbejacobs

Thank you so much! I feel so much better about my asparagus "forest" now! They are very green and lush but I will wait till next year; I am sure they will be even more ready then!

Does a field have to be

By Rose Holmes

Does a field have to be burned before asparagus can be planted? and do farmers have to wait 7 years before planting the seeds?

If you're creating space for

By Almanac Staff

If you're creating space for an asparagus bed, you just want to make sure it's weed- and grass-free as asparagus can not compete with weeds. You can either treat the area with an herbicide that's OK for food crops or/and you could cover the area with black plastic during the summer before planting time.
You don't have to burn a field. However, some gardeners like to burn the bed every spring to cut back on weeds and insects.

I just planted this year they

By Lori Cross

I just planted this year they are just now coming up fern like. Now what do I do next, I'd appreicate anyones help this is all new to me.

Do not harvest the asparagus

By Almanac Staff

Do not harvest the asparagus during the planting year. Wait until next year. Do not cut down the fern growth at the end of the growing season. Wait until the spring. Then put down mulch and keep out weeds. Make sure you test your soil; amend with lime if the pH is below 6.0 to 6.5. When harvest season comes (watch closely!), pick the spears daily before they start to put on their foliage.

I'm confused. The first part

By NettieOlson

I'm confused. The first part of the article these comments are attached to, say to cut back 1st growing season ferns in the late fall and side-dress. The answer in this comment section says to NOT cut down the ferns in the fall and wait until spring. Which is correct?

Some folks recommend to cut

By Almanac Staff

Some folks recommend to cut the ferns after they turn brown in the fall. If you leave the ferns until spring they will rot on the beds and sometimes encourage insect infestations.

Hey, can I just trim the top

By hadams

Hey, can I just trim the top of the fern off a bit if it gets over 6 feet tall? It's blocking my view. The bed is 5 years old and has tons of ferns.

It's best to leave the ferns

By Almanac Staff

It's best to leave the ferns alone. Cut them back after the first frost this fall.

Hello. I would like to ask

By Nikola

Hello. I would like to ask you about growing asparagus from seeds.

This year in May I have planted some 15 seeds of asparagus. Nearly 10 sprouted and now they are from 1 to 2 inches tall. I have noticed that most of them have light green tops and one of them has light brown tops (extreme tip, few leaves are light brown). Is this normal, or are they dying (especially that one with light brown colour)? I am new in growing asparagus and I am a bit worried. Also, what are the best conditions for watering and sun? I keep the pots on direct sun (in Macedonia it's quite hot in summer) and I water the pots every second day. Thanks a lot

Asparagus is a cool-region

By Almanac Staff

Asparagus is a cool-region crop. If you sun is very hot move the pots into an area with semi-shade. Asparagus does best in light soil that drains well. Let the soil dry out before you water again so that the roots don't sit in soggy soil.

Thanks. I moved the plants

By Nikola

Thanks. I moved the plants indoors, on the window. So far so good. I'll water them when the soil is dry. Best

A newly planted asparagus tip

By mghedlund

A newly planted asparagus tip broke off when it was about 3" tall. It was planted about 3 weeks ago from a crown. Will another asparagus stalk grow in its place?

What happened? Did another

By Ralph Mossman

What happened? Did another one appear?

A stalk is just a plant

By Catherine Boeckmann

A stalk is just a plant shoot. Each crowd grows a bunch of spears so expect more.

Will new crowns produce more

By Ralph Mossman

Will new crowns produce more than one shoot? I too broke the top of a new shoot, and so far, all the other crowns planted have only produced one plant, so am wondering if the one I broke will do anything.

This is the third or fourth

By Wendy Von-Niessen

This is the third or fourth year I have grown asparagus but I have never had anything to harvest. All I have is this fern like plant that is huge!!

What do I need to do to get some yummy asparagus coming up?

Have you had your soil

By Almanac Staff

Have you had your soil tested? Amend it with lime if the pH is below 6.0 to 6.5 --or, follow the fertilizer recommendations based on the results. You can usually get a free soil test from your cooperative extension. Also, make sure you keep the bed free of weeds. Add lots of organic mulch to keep it weed-free and help keep moisture in.

Our asparagus patch is about

By Bud from Wysox PA

Our asparagus patch is about 10 years old. We have maintained it pretty well. But this year there is a two foot wide section, that goes through our patch for approximately 12 feet long where nothing came up. Could it be diseased or is something eating the crowns ?

At this point, you can assume

By Almanac Staff

At this point, you can assume you have a problem. We would gently dig down to find out what's going on. Crown rot would be the usual suspect.

Once the spears turn into

By wendy czech

Once the spears turn into cladodes, are they edible or can you make tea from them?

We only eat the young shoots

By Almanac Staff

We only eat the young shoots of asparagus. Asparagus is so healthy that we imagine it would be great in any form--from soup to tea.

Why does most of our

By dakota garden

Why does most of our asparagus grow into ferns right away? We have very few spears to cut. The patch is 6-8 years old.

It sounds as if it's too warm

By Almanac Staff

It sounds as if it's too warm where you live. To get good spears each year, the root system needs to store food from the previous year (through the ferns, etc). If it's warm or there are poor growing conditions, spears will be smaller the following spring. Over time, you'll get less and less spears each year. You always want to leave the ferns to help spear production. Also, it's important to divide asparagus roots during the winter into individual plants for replanting.

I am interested in what you

By Vincenza Likens

I am interested in what you posted about dividing the asparagus roots during winter for replanting purposes. Do you dig up all of your asparagus every year to separate it? Do you plant it in the same place it was at after you separate it? Can you explain more about this process? Thank you.

If you wish, divide asparagus

By Almanac Staff

If you wish, divide asparagus roots during the winter after the tops have been removed. To divide, use a saw to cut the clump into two or more pieces. When you divide the crowns, you are creating new individual plants that you can replant--either enlarge your asparagus bed or create a new one.

i planted a 2 year old crown

By Kayla

i planted a 2 year old crown i have 2 small foot tall ferns directly above it and another fern 2 feet away where water pools

can asparagus be planted this

By William Ort

can asparagus be planted this late in the year. Late June or early July,or am I better to just wait and plant next spring Thank You

Odds are not in your favor

By Almanac Staff

Odds are not in your favor now. Plant next spring. Set out seedlings when they are 12 to 14 weeks old, just after your last spring frost. Or, start with asparagus crowns (dormant roots of 1-year-old plants) to eliminate years of headaches that come with starting from seed.

I planted Mary

By klo74

I planted Mary Washington(female) asparagus roots a little over two weeks ago (May 29, 2013). I dug a 6" trench and laid the crowns down and covered them with 2" of soil mixed with a little sand. I haven't seen any spears yet. How long does it take before I start to see something? I live in PA and we have had a rainy couple of weeks. The temperature has been in the 70's. The water has been draining through the trench. Thank You!

You should start to see

By Almanac Staff

You should start to see spears in a few more weeks. Rain or temperature may affect when they emerge--make sure there is good drainage. If nothing comes up for a while, you might check a crown or two to see if it has rotted or looks diseased.

(Do not harvest any spears that appear during the first year after planting; allow them to develop into ferns, so that the plant can produce food to help it to become established. The second year, harvest lightly. Third year onward--harvest normally.)

I have a great asparagus bed,

By T. Lynn

I have a great asparagus bed, and we have enjoyed much good foods, from it, however, I need to know about whether the fern is the only part to leave, or if, for example, when we were not in town, the stalks got too large, to eat, should I leave them also, or go ahead and cut them down, as well...? Basically, do both male and female plants, grow thru the fern, or is the foliage, that gets too large, as well..? I just dont want to cut the large stems down, if they are also feeding for next springs harvest. Thanx for any help as to whether it is the fern ONLY, that I should leave...?

When the recommended time

By Almanac Staff

When the recommended time slot for harvesting is over, allow everything to grow. All stalks, whether large or small, or from male or female plants, will develop into ferns. Leave the ferns over the summer and allow them to brown and die in fall before cutting them near the ground.

Both male and female plants will produce ferns; both plants will flower. However, the female plants will also produce berries (if there is a male plant nearby for pollination). In general, female plants with berries may have thinner stalks than males because some of the energy goes into producing the fruit. Some hybrids are all-male; these usually have more vigor and produce thicker stalks.

I have inherited a mature

By Eleanor, Dublin

I have inherited a mature asparagus patch in a newly purchased house. I have enjoyed fine asparagus for weeks now. However, I do not know how to maintain the patch OR, importantly, if I should stop cutting the crop & allow a few to grow (to provide carbohydrates for the root system). What should I do - I don't want to 'damage' the crop and / or hinder growth for next season. Help!

Our asparagus bed is about 4

By cknight

Our asparagus bed is about 4 years old and producing well but this year we had great rains in the spring. We have little plants coming up from seed. Should I pull them up?

Female asparagus plants

By Almanac Staff

Female asparagus plants naturally reseed the bed. Reseeding will overcrowd the established bed. You can carefully remove the seedlings and transplant them into a new bed, but you have to wait several years before you can enjoy asparagus from this bed.

Our asparagus bed is well

By Cathy Marquardt

Our asparagus bed is well established, but the weeds are taking over. Can we rotor til the bed and then get back on top of the weeding? Or do we just need to get out there and pull? Regardless, should we be mulching to keep them at bay?

We always apply

By Almanac Staff

We always apply well-composted organic matter to our beds before the season (mixed in with the fertilizer)--plus, several inches of deep mulching. This keeps most of the weeds at bay. However, hand pulling and mulch will not get rid of perennial weeds. You can only control by applying herbicides before the asparagus emerges and after fall frost. Check with your local cooperative extension or garden center for approved herbicides in your area. If your area is especially weedy, you may eventually have to face facts and re-set in a weed-free area.

I have mature asparagus

By scooter b

I have mature asparagus didn't harvest some of it in time it just grew to fast and it got away from me......should I cut the ferns down or let them grow to feed the roots......just didn't know because they are about 5 years old.

The asparagus fern supplies

By Almanac Staff

The asparagus fern supplies energy to the roots and crowns. This is needed for next year’s crop. Cut the ferns back in the fall.

This is the second year for

By Wendy Rust

This is the second year for my asparagus plants. I harvested a batch the first week, then stopped. The asparagus continued to come but because it was only the second year, I didn't pick any more. Now I have ferns five plus feet going to seed. Some falling over. Do I stake them and wait until they turn yellow and brown in the fall before I cut them down? I planted radishes between the plants and besides pulling up great radishes I have not had a problem with weeding at all!

Leave the ferns until fall.

By Almanac Staff

Leave the ferns until fall. They supply energy for next year's crop. Great idea to plant radishes between the rows!

So, my new neighbor had

By Lee C

So, my new neighbor had already a few asparagus plants in her garden already. She doesn't like Asparagus and so I dug them up and planted. I know the asparagus are well over 5 or 6 years old. Now, does the 3 year rule apply for not harvesting asparagus if they have been moved recently as a week ago? There are 1 or 3 really tall spears and quite thick. Should I harvest them? Also, why are now the ferns turning yellow at the end of may in very hot weather?

If you were able to dig up

By Almanac Staff

If you were able to dig up and transplant big roots and crowns you can harvest the spears this year. If you planted smaller root pieces let them grow a season and harvest next spring.
Yellow ferns can be a sign of transplant shock.

asparagus

By Anonymous

i planted my asparagus crowns in spring of this year(2013) when can i harvest the spears? can i harvest them next year or is that too soon?

Don't harvest next spring.

By Almanac Staff

Don't harvest next spring. Let the asparagus grow another year. Harvesting too soon will weaken the plants.

Ferns

By Anonymous

Oops! My daughter just harvested everything...fern, male shoots, everything. Do you think the ferns will come back?

Question

By Anonymous

Earlier this spring (February) I planted several crowns (DFW TX area). Only one is showing any life. Should I give up on the others or continue watering them?

I also live in DFW area. Mine

By Monica Wittke

I also live in DFW area. Mine all grew right away. I just dug trench approx. 8" deep and covered. Morning sun is all they get. Planted approx three feet from pond and never water. They are 3 years old and doing great. Replant more and water less in morning sun area. It is cold weather plant therefore afternoon sun in DFW is too hot for plant and roots. When old enough to harvest, watch for them in January otherwise they'll fern out on you. Good luck.

I live in dfw too. Just

By PStram

I live in dfw too. Just recieved my root crowns yesterday and were covered in ice. Nursery said plant while dormant. Makes me nervous sticking anything in ground when its this cold. Any thoughts? Cant hold till spring? Thanks.

Harvest them all, or leave a few?

By Anonymous

My asparagus bed is now starting to produce shoots. Can I harvest them all, or do I need to leave a few to fern and build new roots?

second year, LARGE asparagus!

By Anonymous

I planted asparagus crowns (Jersey) last spring, and went out to check them this spring and found one HUGE asparagus - about three feet tall, from the plant closest to the house! There are a few other smaller than this, but very large, too. Should I cut the large asparagus (second season)? I didn't know it was there and think it may have grown during the winter, since it was a mild winter and this plant is near the house and probably the soil is warmer there.

Asparagus will shoot up while

By Almanac Staff

Asparagus will shoot up while you're not looking! It's not uncommon for the spears to grow this long. However, you need to harvest them when they are 4 to 10 inches long--or they may taste fibrous. Harvest at least every other day when they are growing.
Just snap off the spears at ground level; do not allow stubs to remain.

harvesting asparagus

By Miriam Louise

I'm reading Nigel Slater's new vegetable book, Tender. He says to cut - not break - spears close to the crown. Mine is planted rather deep, 6" to 10" so doing that looks difficult. Also, there is a thick forest of old stalks at each plant. Should I remove those to give new spears more room to grow? If so, at what point in the growing season?

care and cutting

By Almanac Staff

Your asparagus crown should be planted in a relatively deep trench, but as it grows you should be pushing soil into the trench until it reaches ground level. Then, in the second or third year (sources are mixed on how long to wait to harvest after planting), you cut or break (snap) off the spears (sources are mixed on the harvest technique, too) at the soil surface--not below the soil.
During the final harvest of the season, prune (cut or snap off) the remaining spears at the soil surface. However, do not cut back the ferns/foliage while it is still green; in fact, you can let it stand through the winter and cut it in the spring.
We hope this helps.

Planting & harvesting asparagus

By Anonymous

I planted in May of 2012 and did not cut down the asparagus in the fall. Should I cut them now or let them go? Having planted in 2012 can I harvest this year or should I wait til next year 2014?

when to harvest asparagus

By Almanac Staff

The rule of thumb is bending: some sources now say that is can be beneficial to harvest spears in their second year of growth (that it's not necessary to wait until the third year). Harvest by snapping off, not cutting, spears of 7 to 9 inches height that have tight tips. Leave the tops, or fern, as long as they are green. If the plants are healthy, you can leave the fern tops through the winter, then cut or mow them down before new growth appears in spring. We hope this helps!

asparagus

By Anonymous

will new spears coming up freeze like other veggies in early spring with temps. down about 32 ?

Asparagus spears freezing

By Anonymous

Hi, Yes the tips & upper stalk will freeze & when the warming sun hits it, the spear will shrivel & wilt. Kind Regards, Rod

Cedar Tree Compatibility

By Anonymous

I just purchased my first asparagus to add to my expanding garden. I have a nice spot selected for it to mature under a cedar tree - we are in zone 9b and I don't expect drainage to be an issue. Does anyone have knowledge about the success of planting asparagus near an established cedar tree?

Cedar Trees and Asparagus

By Almanac Staff

I suppose you could experiment! You need to ensure the asparagus receives enough sun and especially soil moisture. Often, areas around cedars are acidic, dry, and shady--so drought-tolerant shade plants such as hostas do best. Also, take care not to dig too closely to the cedar tree and its root system.

Asparagus

By Bonnie

I'm continually learning my raised bed gardening. Planted asparagus 3 yrs ago. Actually the 1st year I got several tasty asparagus. My neighbor said, "NO NO, don't pick the first year"...so I quit, fern sprouted and ever since, I only get fern and I don't know what to do. Also, how do I acidify my soil safely?

To acidify soil use

By Waltertree106

To acidify soil use agricultural sulfur. A soil test will tell you how much to use to move the pH one point. For our soil in PA, it takes 3.5 lbs per 100 sq ft, to go from 7.2 to 5.5. Somewhere around a pound per point. HOWEVER:!! Asparagus likes to be around 7 so you do not need to acidify for asparagus if you soil is near 7. Blue berries like 5.5, red and pin oaks 4.8 to about 6. Check your crop before changing the pH. Different areas of the garden may be different pH. Potatoes like 5.5 or so. Do not add lime to the potatoes, you get marble size potatoes. I changed the pH to 5.5 for my potatoes and grew 1/2 to 1 pounders.

all fern, no spears

By Almanac Staff

Bonnie, Let's start with your last question first, you can acidify the soil by sprinkling it with sulfur. Sprinkle it on the soil, then water to "wash" the sulfur in. Do this occasionally and check the soil's pH. (Testers are available at nursery stores.) In our pH Preference chart (p. 272 in The 2013 Old Farmer's Almanac) we say, "Acidic, or sour, soil (below 7.0) is counteracted by applying finely ground limestone, and alkaline, or sweet, soil (above 7.0) is treated with sulfur."
This first question does not have an easy answer--there may be too many variables. Your neighbor was correct, but with a couple of years now passed, you should get something productive. It may be that next year (now your third year), that you will get results. Of course, the wrong pH may be the problem. Or the amount of nutrients in the soil; asparagus loves rich compost. Its roots are long—possible around six feet; could they be stunted by something in the location?? a wall, tree roots, or other? (One of our editors wanted to use asparagus as a foundation plant and, upon learning of the root length, pulled it out before it matured--but suggested this possibility.)
Lack of spears may just be poor growing conditions. This occurs in areas that have warmer climate. Asparagus need a cold "rest" period; lack of one can influence the plant's ability to store food and so grow successfully the next season. Alternatively, contact your local extension service; we list all of the states here: http://www.almanac.com/content/cooperative-extension-services
We hope this helps!

Asparagus ferns

By Anonymous

When should I cut my ferns down.

Cut the ferns when they turn

By Almanac Staff

Cut the ferns when they turn brown in the fall. As long as they are green they're feeding the asparagus roots.

I have been trying for years

By Anonymous

I have been trying for years to grow asparagus but it continues to come in sporadically. I will have big gaps between the live growth. I'll fill it in with more roots, then other areas will stop producing. I live in central MD and the soil is very rich with a slightly high PH of around 6.5 or so. When I do dig up the roots they do appear to be rotting so maybe my drainage is not good enough. Should I try mixing sand into the soil? Or do I need to set up shop in a raised bed and forget this spot? Also is more sun better?
The spot they are in now gets about 5-6 hours of direct sun a day.

Oops

By Anonymous

I was a little behind on the learning curve on harvesting this year and let my asparagus fern out in early spring. So can I now cut them and still expect a spring harvest or did I just blow my year?

RE: Oops

By Anonymous

Once they fern, they shouldn't be cut, as 1) they'll be too tough & stringy to be edible; 2) those ferns are busy building roots for next Spring's shoots. If new stems emerge, those could be harvested.

I give up.

By Anonymous

I planted fresh crowns last year, worked the soil added compost, absolutely everything else was a bumper crop. The asparagus didn't even break ground. Ph is 7, watered properly,
crowns from a reputable supplier....
is it normal for there to be no plant at all for the first year? Maybe it will pop out this season?

asparagus woes

By Almanac Staff

Asparagus takes 3 years to mature and produce. A few thoughts though: If you dig up a crown, is it rotted? If so, your bed needs better drainage as asparagus don't like "wet feet." When you bought your crowns, did the roots look round and firm and did the crowns have lots of short, round points? This is what you want. If the roots are mostly flat, then the plant probably will not grow. Finally, we advise shallow planting--no more than 5 to 6 inches. Hope this helps. We don't know the issues but perhaps it's just a matter of waiting. Asparagus has been known to take its time!

asparagus

By Mary Ellen

My asparagus bed is too thick. When can I dig up some roots and replant?

asparagus

By racheldann

my grandmother is head of a farmers market and upon asking the same question recently she stated in the fall. Dig as much of the root as possible.

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